Vegas Vacation Review

Vegas Vacation movie posterSynopsis
When Clark (Chevy Chase) receives a bonus from work, he takes his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), son Rusty (Ethen Embry), and daughter Audrey (Marisol Nichols) on a family vacation to Las Vegas.

Review
I know that Vegas Vacation, the fourth film in the Vacation franchise, is the most maligned of the series but I have a confession to make: I enjoy it quite a bit. Admittedly, I might be a little bit biased as this was one of the first films I owned on DVD and therefore watched it much more than any other film in the series (except maybe Christmas Vacation). Vegas Vacation is the first film in the Vacation franchise to not carry the National Lampoon moniker, as well as the first not penned by John Hughes. Despite this, Vegas Vacation still packs plenty of laughs and good times.

Early on, it is obvious Hughes was uninvolved with the script because it lacks the heart of the previous films. Also, the script is nowhere near as strong as previous outings. However, Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo remain true to form and carry the film as best they can. Unsurprisingly, some of the best scenes of the film are when Chase and D’Angelo are together. What else can I say that I haven’t said about them in my other reviews? They are simply a fantastic duo.

For a good portion of the film, the Griswolds split up and each explore Las Vegas on their own, giving Chase, D’Angelo, Ethan Embry, and Marisol Nichols plenty of screen time. The strength of each of these four subplots varies but my personal favorites are Embry’s Rusty becoming a high roller despite being underage, and Chase’s Clark going around Las Vegas with Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) trying to regain the money he lost. Although I would be lying if I consider Clark’s portion my favorite parts because Quaid is at his best in the entire series. Quaid has always been one of the highlights of the franchise for me so seeing him in such a central role and rivaling Clark for my favorite character of the film is an impressive feat.

Ellen’s (D’Angello) and Audrey’s (Nichols) subplots don’t feel like they add much to the story. Ellen gets wooed by Wayne Newton which has some laughs but also just feels uncomfortable at times. Meanwhile, Audrey, encouraged by her cousin Vicki (Shae D’lyn), becomes a dancer in a Las Vegas club. Honestly, it’s during these scenes that I just wait patiently for Rusty’s or Clark’s scenes or for the entire group to be together again since they are far more interesting.

I thought Vegas Vacation was GOOD ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s far from the best in the series but I still find it highly enjoyable. Chase and D’Angelo are fantastic together as you’ve come to expect over the franchise and the latest round of Rusty and Audrey, Ethan Embry and Marisol Nichols respectively, do fine against their movie parents. And once again, Audrey’s story feels the weakest while Rusty’s is one of the most entertaining of the film. Randy Quaid’s Cousin Eddie continues to be a stand-out supporting character, being the best appearance of him of all the Vacation movies. While it doesn’t close out the franchise with the strength it started with, Vegas Vacation is still an entertaining trip with the Griswolds.

Favorite Quote
Hoover Dam Guide: Welcome everyone. I am your dam guide, Arnie. Now I’m about to take you through a fully functional power plant, so please, no one wander off the dam tour and please take all the dam pictures you want. Now are there any dam questions?
Cousin Eddie: Yeah, where can I get some dam bait?

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Stephen Kessler โ€“ Director
Elisa Bell โ€“ Story / Screenplay
Bob Ducsay โ€“ Story
Joel McNeely โ€“ Composer

Chevy Chase โ€“ Clark Griswold
Beverly D’Angelo โ€“ Ellen Griswold
Ethan Embry โ€“ Rusty Griswold
Marisol Nichols โ€“ Audrey Griswold
Randy Quaid โ€“ Cousin Eddie
Mariiam Flynn โ€“ Cousin Catherine
Shae D’lyn โ€“ Cousin Vicki
Wayne Newton โ€“ Wayne Newton
Wallace Shawn โ€“ Marty
Sid Caesar โ€“ Old Guy

The Game Review

This movie was recommend by Ashley from Box Office Buzz as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

The Game movie posterSynopsis
Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a wealthy banker who spends most of his time engulfed in his work. For his birthday, Nicholas’ brother, Conrad (Sean Penn), invites him to join a mysterious game. Soon, Nicholas is unable to distinguish what is the game and what is real.

Review
Right out the gate, director David Fincher lets us know what kind of character Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is. He’s detached and insensitive to the people around him. Enter Nicholas’ brother, Conrad (Sean Penn) who knows just what to do to bring him back to reality: a game tailored specifically for Nicholas. However, the reality is, Nicholas doesn’t know what to believe once the game begins, and neither does the audience. Throughout the film, you will find yourself questioning what is part of the game and what isn’t; who is involved and who isn’t. The score is pretty minimalistic. Most of the time, the score consists mainly of piano. The heavy piano score and the audience being just as in the dark as Nicholas about the titular game combine to create a very suspenseful atmosphere. Even when the ending came, I wasn’t sure whether or not to believe it. Of course, it doesn’t help that there are several instances when you think it’s over then that was revealed to not be the ending and continue on.

As thrilling as it was, it took me a little while to get into the film. It wasn’t until I truly didn’t know what to believe did I become interested in seeing how the story played out. Normally when you have a jerk of a character whose arc ends with some sort of redemption, they at the very least have some characteristic or trait that you can latch on to to want to see them succeed. I didn’t find that connection with Nicholas, so I didn’t have much of a reason to care. Michael Douglas does a fantastic job with the role, there’s no doubt about that, but when it takes me halfway through the movie to get invested in the character, that’s too long to me.

I thought The Game was OK ๐Ÿ˜ Atmospherically, this movie is a great suspense film. Fincher creatively breaks down Nicholas’ world that keeps you in suspense. Unfortunately, it took too long for me to feel invested in the main character, and even then it was mostly โ€œwell, I’m already this far. Might as well see it through.โ€

Trailer

Cast & Crew
David Fincher โ€“ Director
John Brancato โ€“ Writer
Michael Ferris โ€“ Writer
Howard Shore โ€“ Composer

Michael Douglas โ€“ Nicholas Van Orton
Sean Penn โ€“ Conrad
Deborah Kara Unger โ€“ Christine
James Rebhorn โ€“ Jim Feingold
Peter Donat โ€“ Samuel Sutherland
Carroll Baker โ€“ Ilsa
Anna Katarina โ€“ Elizabeth
Armin Mueller-Stahl โ€“ Anson Baer